Luke 6:20 Then He lifted up His eyes toward His disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you poor,
For yours is the kingdom of God. (NKJV)
New life was breathed into this scripture as I and the rest of the mission team walked the dirt roads of a village/town community outside of Managua, Nicaragua. A couple who started a missionary ministry called Lifelink International established a school for children in preschool to third grade in this community. I have heard about poverty in developing countries and have seen all kinds of images in the media for most of my life, only now it was real. The hot sun beamed down as I gazed at homes that were the size of a large bedroom that housed entire families. My heart became sensitive as I saw young mothers holding babies in places that here in this country we would consider filthy. Normally, I would expect people to frown and not be inviting or accepting to outsiders in these types of conditions. However, most of the people we encountered smiled and were very courteous. A couple of families even invited us into their homes, completely void of any shame. This was almost mind-boggling to me because I would likely be embarrassed to live in those types of conditions and wouldn’t want anyone I didn’t know personally in my space. But then I realized that this was mainly because I have grown up in a “developed nation” where everything is convenient and the standard of living is much higher. In this country, even those who live in what is considered to be poverty would be filthy rich compared to the large majority of people living in Nicaragua. In the U.S., we have so many options and opportunities. We can compare our situations to many others from all walks of life socioeconomically. In countries like Nicaragua, the people don’t really have the concept of poverty because it is simply their way of life. It is the norm and they don’t have much in which to compare their situations. They are only poor from a materialistic perspective, but they are filthy rich in spirit.
My heart went out to the people as I toured their homes. I walked on their dirt floors and gazed up at the tin roofs. I marveled at the outside cement holes that served as the toilets and the make-shift outside stalls with garden hoses to provide the water for showering or washing up. The beds were about equivalent to the ones that are in jails and prisons. Some of them even had cardboard stacked up in place of where a thin mattress would normally be. There were some overhead power lines that these homes would tap off of to provide electricity for their outdated TVs and small stoves. As I walked around one of the homes, I sweated like a pig because there was obviously no air conditioning and it had to have been almost one hundred degrees inside. The lady of the home just smiled and held her newborn baby. She smiled just like all the precious little faces at the school did. These little ones do not know the concept of poverty and are able to smile and laugh in the midst of situations that would drive most of us into depression, crime and a victim mentality. These resilient kids anticipate each day of school as an adventure and express a genuine excitement. Amazing how people living in what is considered extreme poverty can smile and love life, yet those of us who seemingly have everything will complain over a minute form of adversity. So as my heart went out to them, maybe their hearts should have went out to me… They have more faith than I do yet they live in conditions that would make me question the God I believe in. Wow… One of the highlights for me as we walked through the town was playing with some little boys who were chasing these gigantic cockroaches in the road. In this country that would be considered nasty. In this country our kids need electronic devices to grab their attention instead of doing things like chasing giant bugs lol.
The average Nicaraguan makes approximately the equivalent of $2 per day. Another statistic I heard my pastor mention one time during one of his sermons that was people who make $50,000 or more per year are in the top 1% wealthiest in the entire world. Individuals making $25,000 per year are in the top 10% in the world. As startling as these statistics might be, for most us in this country they don’t hold that much weight. Our quality of life is judged by whether or not we can afford an I-Phone or I-Pad. So spiritually speaking, I can see why Christians in other nations have more testimonies about miracles and supernatural occurrences. God is all they have. They don’t have technology and money to get the glory instead of the Lord. Without all of the distractions they are able to enjoy more deeper and intimate relationships with God. They are able to witness His power at work in their lives and those around them on a constant basis, in a more tangible way. They are RICH in spirit. Spiritually, it is almost like they have an advantage over us because they are more able to give Him unhindered praise. I’m not saying this necessarily for the sake of comparison; I’m simply trying to show us how convenience and materialism can keep us from really experiencing the Kingdom of God in a much greater way. They can also hinder our true reverence of Him, which again will keep us from seeing the miracles of each day. What I think is really sad is that the fact that generally speaking, Christians who live in developing countries have way more faith and belief than us in North America. While I agree that people in developing countries may need our resources and more opportunities, they don’t need to become like us. They may be “last” for now, but they will be FIRST in the next life.
Matthew 19:23-24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)
Nathan Allen Copyright ©2013